|David Eddings, |
Volume 1: Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician's Gambit,
Volume 2: Castle of Wizardry, Enchanters' End Game
(Del Rey, 1982-1984; collected, 2002)
David Eddings' Belgariad is an incredible, five-book epic series detailing the events at the ending of an age. In the first book, Pawn of Prophecy, we meet 9-year-old Garion, who has lived all his happy young life under the care of his beautiful and wise Aunt Pol, the cook on Master Faldor's farm. Then one day when he is 14, the storyteller Mister Wolf appears at the farm. Garion overhears him and Aunt Pol discussing a journey and before he knows it, the three of them, accompanied by the smith Durnik, are sneaking out of the farm gate in the middle of the night.
Suddenly, Garion is thrust into a world he does not at all understand. He knows that he is an orphan, but suddenly, the people that he thought he knew turn out not to be who he thought they were at all. His companions are nobles and princes, and Mister Wolf, it seems, is actually the sorcerer Belgarath, known as the Eternal Man because he is 7,000 years old. But worse yet, Garion's beloved Aunt Pol turns out to be Belgarath's 3,000-year-old daughter, Polgara, which means she cannot possibly be Garion's aunt. Garion suddenly finds himself adrift and alone in the world. Not only are his parents dead, but his aunt is not really his aunt.
All of these important people are on a mission to recover something very important, something they will not identify, something that has been stolen by a person that they will not name. Garion slowly begins to put together snatches of overheard conversation and tales that Mister Wolf told when he was merely a vagabond storyteller, and even though the adults want to keep him in the dark, suddenly he understands that what they are all absorbed in is Very Important. Little by little, Garion begins to grow up.
Throughout the rest of the series, the journey and the search continue. Garion has discovered that his aunt really is his aunt (sort of) after all, and that Belgarath is his grandfather (with quite a few greats attached). The existence of his own sorcerous powers is confirmed in a most dreadful manner. Guided by prophecy, the group, joined by various other people, eventually recover the stolen Orb of Aldur and travel with it to Riva. There, Garion's true identity and frightening destiny are revealed.
The Belgariad is as much the story of Garion's coming of age as it is the story of a grand quest. Garion grows from the 9-year-old boy we first meet to a hero by Enchanters' End Game, the fifth book in the series. Along the way, he experiences the same sorts of growing pangs as we all do; feeling like an outsider, embarrassment, anger at his family. Eddings deftly tells the story of a boy becoming a young man in extraordinary circumstances.
Eddings' writing style is engaging and full of dry wit. The characters don't just nobly carry out the quest, they bicker and pick on each other like real people. These are the sort of books where you'll find yourself having to stop as you read to read paragraphs aloud to people so that they can also appreciate Eddings' sly humor. And once you start reading, you'll find that you don't want to stop.
11 March 2000
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